Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA. email@example.com
OBJECTIVE: To determine the relationship between mutations in dhfr and dhps and SP treatment failure in Plasmodium falciparum malaria in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
METHODS: Therapeutic efficacy trial was conducted in Rutshuru, Eastern DRC, between June and September 2002, comparing sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), SP plus amodiaquine (AQSP) and artesunate plus SP (ASSP) regimens for treating malaria in children under 5 years old. We genotyped 212 samples for mutations associated with SP resistance and investigated their association with treatment failure.
RESULTS: In the SP arm, 61% of the subjects experienced treatment failure after 14 days. The failure rate was lower in the combination arms (AQSP: 32%, ASSP: 21%). The dhfr-108 and dhfr-51 mutations were nearly universal while 89% of the samples had at least one additional mutation at dhfr-59, dhps-437 or dhps-540. Dhps mutations had a bigger impact on treatment failure in children with high parasite density: for children with a parasite density <45 000 parasites/microl, the risk of treatment failure was 37% for mutations at dhps-437 and dhps-540 mutation and 21% for neither mutation [risk difference (RD) = 17%, 95% CI: -3%, 36%]. In children with a parasite density >45 000 parasites/microl, the treatment failure risk was 58% and 8% for children with both mutations or neither mutation, respectively (RD = 51%, 95% CI: 34%, 67%).
CONCLUSIONS: Dhps-437 and dhps-540 are strongly associated with SP treatment failure and should be evaluated further as a method for surveillance of SP-based therapy in DRC.